Saturday, 23rd September 2017
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Japanese Princess visits Tramore Gardens “to honour the legacy of Lafcadio Hearn”

Tramore was en fete to welcome the official representative of the Japanese Imperial Family, Her Imperial Highness, the Princess Takamado, on the only stop of her Irish visit outside Dublin - the Lafcadio Hearn Japanese Gardens.

Built only three years ago, the Tramore Gardens commemorate the life and literary genius of Patrick Lafcadio Hearn, who later in Japan was to change his name to Koizumi Yakumo upon his marriage to a Japanese woman whom he met in Matsue, where he began his work chronicling the rich folklore tradition of his adopted country.

Hearn published 13 books during the 14 years he spent in Japan before his untimely death in 1904 at the age of 54. Initially Hearn’s writing about Japanese society and folklore had a huge following in the West but gradually faded from view. However, in his adopted country Hearn’s name is still revered and has inspired many other media representations such as the classic 1960’s film Kwaidan.

The gardens in Tramore, which already attract thousands of visitors from all over the world, were inspired by a visit to the area by Hearn’s great grandson, Professor Bon Koizumi, in 2012. Supported by the generosity of Waterford Council, the JEC Fund Japan, and corporate sponsorship, the gardens remain operationally dependent on Community Employment and Pobal funded schemes as well as local volunteerism.

The Princess was welcomed by the Mayor of Waterford City and County, Cllr Pat Nugent, Oireachtas members, members of Tramore Development Trust and many local organisations, garden staff and volunteers, as well as local children.

In his opening remarks, the Mayor expressed his appreciation that “Tramore was the only venue outside of Dublin, included in the official visit to Ireland by her Imperial Highness to mark the 60th anniversary of Ireland-Japan Diplomatic Relations”.

The Mayor, the Princess and her entourage, including the Irish ambassador to Japan, HE Anne Barrington, and the Japanese Ambassador to Ireland, HE Mari Miyoshi, then took part in a guided tour of the gardens lead by Agnes Aylward, the Garden Director.

Continued on page 2.

The tour retraced Hearn’s life journey through an interlocking series of garden spaces, planted to reflect his Victorian Irish childhood, his American journey, his yearning for his Greek mother, Rosa, and finally his arrival in Japan.

The Princess expressed delight at the peaceful spirit of the gardens and the beauty of the planting and architectural features, which had already captured the spirit of a Japanese garden.

As a published author of children’s books and legends, she was pleased to see the way the gardens introduce visitors, through their topography and planting, to numerous legends from Japanese folklore, related by Hearn in his books.

The Princess was particularly interested in plans for a new area of the garden, to be constructed in the coming months. This area will seek to replicate and capture the spirit of the original, now famous, garden at Hearn’s former residence in Matsue, Japan. This project has been commenced to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Irish Japan Diplomatic Relations. This ‘Matsue’ garden is positioned opposite a bronze relief of Hearn, gifted to the Lafcadio Hearn Gardens by the City of Matsue.

In commemoration of her visit, the Princess planted a Japanese Cherry Tree, Prunus Oku-Miyako .

Some special surprises were arranged to commemorate the visit:

- Children from the Vickie Graham Stage School reenacted scenes from Katie and the Dream Eater - a children’s story written by Princess Takamado.

- As the visit coincided with the 64th birthday of the Princess, a birthday cake provided by garden volunteer, Afra Cronin, was cut to the singing of Happy Birthday by the Ladies Choir.

- The Princess was presented, as a gift from the Gardens, with an original charcoal sketch of Tramore Bay, by artist Rachel Ryan; and with a book of Irish Folklore, compiled by Marie Heaney.

Commenting at the end of the visit, Agnes Aylward said “The visit of the Princess Takamado, to Tramore completes the circle of Hearn’s extraordinary life journey, by bringing a member of the Japanese Imperial Household back to the spot in Ireland where he played as a child, and where he is now remembered in a Japanese garden”.

The tour retraced Hearn’s life journey through an interlocking series of garden spaces, planted to reflect his Victorian Irish childhood, his American journey, his yearning for his Greek mother, Rosa, and finally his arrival in Japan.

The Princess expressed delight at the peaceful spirit of the gardens and the beauty of the planting and architectural features, which had already captured the spirit of a Japanese garden.

As a published author of children’s books and legends, she was pleased to see the way the gardens introduce visitors, through their topography and planting, to numerous legends from Japanese folklore, related by Hearn in his books.

The Princess was particularly interested in plans for a new area of the garden, to be constructed in the coming months. This area will seek to replicate and capture the spirit of the original, now famous, garden at Hearn’s former residence in Matsue, Japan. This project has been commenced to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Irish Japan Diplomatic Relations. This ‘Matsue’ garden is positioned opposite a bronze relief of Hearn, gifted to the Lafcadio Hearn Gardens by the City of Matsue.

In commemoration of her visit, the Princess planted a Japanese Cherry Tree, Prunus Oku-Miyako .

As the visit coincided with the 64th birthday of the Princess, a birthday cake provided by garden volunteer, Afra Cronin, was cut to the singing of Happy Birthday by the Ladies Choir.

The Princess was presented, as a gift from the Gardens, with an original charcoal sketch of Tramore Bay, by artist Rachel Ryan; and with a book of Irish Folklore, compiled by Marie Heaney.

Commenting at the end of the visit, Agnes Aylward said “The visit of the Princess Takamado, to Tramore completes the circle of Hearn’s extraordinary life journey, by bringing a member of the Japanese Imperial Household back to the spot in Ireland where he played as a child, and where he is now remembered in a Japanese garden”.

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